Virgin Media is to spend €10 million on acquiring free-to-air commercial broadcaster UTV Ireland from ITV.

As part of the deal, Virgin will broadcast ITV-produced programming over the next decade.

UTV Ireland, which broadcasts programmes such as Emmerdale and Coronation Street, only launched in January 2015 and became an ITV business in February this year.

Live streaming and catch-up services are available via its UTV Player service.

Its content is available on eir Vision, Vodafone, Sky and Saorview, as well as on Virgin.

David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, said: “The acquisition of UTV Ireland gives us leadership in commercial broadcasting in Ireland and extends our platform to showcase the best Irish, UK and international programming.

“It also gives us exciting opportunities to buy and make exclusive programmes for our Virgin Media customers in both the Republic of Ireland and the UK.

“Our vision for television is about bringing people closer to the programmes they love how, where and when they want to view it – be that linear, on-demand or online.”

UTV Ireland joins TV3, Ireland’s largest commercial broadcaster, which Virgin purchased of last year.

The acquisition continues the trend of telcos shaking up the traditional TV and video space.

Last week, eir unveiled its new sports channel following on from its acquisition of Setanta Sports Channel Ireland.

In January, Vodafone Ireland unveiled its first TV offering ahead of a wider launch across the UK.

TV3 Managing Director Pat Kiely said: “Today’s announcement represents an exciting new chapter for the Irish television industry.

“The proposed acquisition of UTV Ireland will ensure further investment in the independent Irish television sector as we continue to compete head on against significant local and international competition."

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